As part of the continued celebration of our Shuffles 25th anniversary, this spring we will be turning our blog spotlight onto our graduating seniors.
We begin with Gabrielle Niederhoffer.
Gabrielle took her first dance class at Shuffles at the age of 2 and has continued dancing at Shuffles for the last 15 years! She will be attending Yale University in the fall where she hopes to join Yale Dance Theater.
“Yale has a great Dance Studies Program which brings in choreographers to develop new choreographic work through research and historical investigation. I am excited to study dance both academically and technically”, she shared with us.
After college, Gabrielle wants to pursue a career in arts administration. “I love being able to do academic work to create art. I think it’s the most incredible thing.”
We asked Gabrielle how she manages both school and dance as a member of The Company at Shuffles (our pre-professional program).
“I dance 5-6 days every week. My school, Dalton, has a rigorous academic program, so I’ve learned to balance dance and academics by planning in advance. For me, being organized reduces stress. When I have a week with a heavy work load, I map out my time by making lists.“
She also plays the drums and has been involved in a year-long choreography program at school both as a junior and senior. She recently choreographed a tap piece for seven dancers with a live drummer. “It was my first experience teaching a large group of people. I love teaching because I learn so much about myself as a dancer. It forces you to know everything about your choreography.” She said that everyone learns dance differently. “Some people are count-oriented, some can just pick it up from the names of the steps, and others learn aurally…so sometimes if I scat it, they pick it up that way. She said it’s really made her appreciate her teachers at Shuffles and all the different techniques they’ve employed over the years in her classes.
“Shuffles will always be an inspiration for my love for learning and teaching dance. I’ve been lucky to form such meaningful relationships here; everyone fosters such a strong sense of community.”
Gabrielle has also been working with Caleb Teicher & Company since last summer as an administrative assistant. “I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in building an artistic organization. I love being involved in both the creative and practical sides of making art. I’ve learned so much about what it takes to run a company and all of work that happens behind the scenes. I mostly do administrative work for CT & Co…I develop marketing materials, write emails, do social media, and attend meetings. I’ve also had the chance to dance in pre-production rehearsals for his company.”
During a week-long residency with the company at Jacob’s Pillow this February, Gabrielle was also a dance “stand-in”.
“I learned all of the choreography and stood in for Caleb so he could view his piece. Being surrounded by an incredible group of artists was truly inspiring. We went to the Jacob’s Pillow Archives and shared many conversations about the history and future of vernacular jazz dance. I learned so much by being involved in this creative process.”
She said her many years dancing and performing in shows at Shuffles were incredible preparation for her administrative work because it allowed her to understand how much is required to run an artistic organization and present a successful dance production.
Gabrielle said that her dance idols are Ann Miller, Jimmy Slyde, the Nicholas Brothers, Dianne Walker, Fred Astaire, Sam Weber, Michelle Dorrance, Bob Fosse, Bill T. Jones and so many more. Her favorite dance performances are Ann Miller’s “Too Darn Hot” and “Shakin’ the Blues Away.” “Also, there is a documentary called “About Tap” that has some of my favorite footage of Jimmy Slyde.”
We asked if there is something people don’t know about her? “People think I have a nervous habit because I tap my fingers a lot. What I’m really doing is practicing tap steps with my hands or improvising rhythms.”
Lastly, we chatted about passion and focus and pursuing goals at such a high level, both academically and artistically. “Particularly in the last few years, I have honed my passion and driven into it with everything I have.” She said that if she is not studying or doing other schoolwork, she is in dance class, choreographing, watching old dance videos, or hanging out with friends. She said she has given up other opportunities (such as a brief stint on the volleyball team), but she has no regrets.
“I’m lucky because I found a passion; it’s what drives and motivates me.”
We are so grateful to Gabrielle for sharing her thoughts with us; best of luck at Yale!